Archive for August, 2010
Have you ever tried to explain geocaching to a muggle? It can be anything from a new convert to the geocaching game, blank stares, or GULP, having Officer McFriendly called on you.
Here are some tips for what to do when confronted by a muggle:
1. Invent a Story
Yes, I’ve been known to spontaneously invent a story when I get asked why I’m carrying a GPS. This is when I’m not anywhere near the cache and am just starting to make my approach.
I’ve used everything from “I’m doing classified work for the government” to “I’m a geologist mapping the lake shore”.
I usually get asked this when people notice the GPS and are just being chatty.
2. Be Honest!
Yes, it might be nosy-neighbor syndrome when they come bustling out of their house asking what you’re doing lurking around that bush. But, if you’re asked straight out what you’re doing, honesty is the best policy.
Here’s what I say:
I’m geocaching! Do you know what that is? It’s basically using a GPS to find hidden containers of “treasure”. There are over 1 MILLION of these hidden world-wide. You just go to geocaching.com to look for a cache near you.
Usually, people will say “Oh, that’s nice” and it will be the end of the story. I try not to get too technical with our terms like “micro” or “travel bug” but I might show them the GPS.
3. Carry An Official Looking Business Card
On your computer, print out a business card (or small piece of paper) that explains what geocaching is. You might even want to include your geocaching name on it! Then, you can just hand it to the muggle after you explain the game. People love “official” looking documents!
You can also find pre-made up business cards online that explain geocaching. I’ll be posting a download here soon and I’ll let you know when!
4. Be Polite
Yes, it can be hard to stay polite when somebody’s giving you a hard time. But remember how weird we look poking around in the bushes!
If somebody accuses you of suspicious activity and are getting upset after you’ve explained the game of geocaching, don’t get in their face. Most people are hyper-worried about terrorists, lone gun man and other bad guys that they just won’t calm down. It’s better to stay calm and leave then to have the muggle get upset and call the police on you. Or worse!
Readers Weigh In:
- What do you say to a muggle who asks what you’re doing?
- Have you ever had a muggle get really upset with you? What did you do?
I wanted to show you some of my favorite designs for fishing, kayaking, geocaching, and TheOutdoorPrincess.com. All of these designs, and more, are available for you to order through my clothing shop at http://www.CafePress.com/EatStayPlay
Brand New Designs:
Featured here on a hat, the ‘Fishing Junkie’ design is a two-tone green statement of what your favorite weekend activity is.
Shown in hot pink but available in 5 colors, the ‘Geocaching Junkie’ design tells the world what I already know: you’re addicted to geocaching and proud of it!
Available in blue, and shown on a water bottle, ‘The Voices Tell Me To Fish’ design explains it all!
Have you ever heard the GPS calling to you from inside a drawer, closet or the trunk of your car? Let that geocaching voice be heard!
One of the all-time most popular designs, here’s a crown fit for the ‘Camping Princess’.
Since I’m The Outdoor Princess, I have a full selection of ‘Princess’ designs. Shown here on a dark brown, long-sleeve tee, the Kayaking Princess is a must-have.
Three little lines sum up geocaching:
Signed The Log.
Shown in red, but also available in green, blue, or black.
Show pride in your hometown AND tell the world that you’re a geocacher! All it takes to customize this design is shoot me an email and I’ll build a graphic just for you. No obligation to buy either!
You can get the same design I wear to film all the videos for The Outdoor Princess Production episodes. You can be an Outdoor Princess too!
Yes, I tend to lean towards the “girly” side of designs, but I’ve tried to show a variety that would appeal to both men AND women. If you have an idea that you would like to see, just let me know!
Tee shirts make great gifts and prizes. The best news is that everything comes with a 30-day money back guarantee! Shop Now!
I’ve got a huge garden this year, and I planted about 15 jalapeno plants. The first year I planted jalapenos, I planted 6 and then couldn’t figure out why I had planted so many! Jalapenos are usually eaten pickled so I wasn’t sure what to do with them…
Now, I know exactly why MORE is BETTER:
- 3-4 raw jalapenos per person
- Brick cream cheese
- Bacon strips
- Toothpicks or skewers
If you’re using toothpicks or wooden skewers, put them in water to soak so they won’t burn when you grill the popper.
Wash the jalapeno s and remove the seeds and stems. (But, keep the jalapeno in one piece!) When you are removing the seeds and stems, be sure not to run any water. The chili oils get into the air when you cut into the jalapeno; running water makes the oils settle so you breathe them. NOT fun to be coughing all the time in the kitchen!
I use a potato peeler to scoop out the seeds. Another tip is to also remove the ribs of the chili: the parts where the seeds attach to the chili wall. That area also carries a lot of “heat”.
Fill the jalapeno with cream cheese.I smash as much as I possibly can into the body of the pepper. You can use the back of a spoon or your fingers to fill the pepper. Just be sure you don’t rub your face at all when you’re handling these bad boys!
Wrap a slice of bacon all the way around the jalapeno (once) and secure with the tooth pick. You might want to cut the bacon strip in half so it’s not as long. This will reduce the cooking time.
Grill the popper on a tabletop barbeque until the bacon is done and the cheese is melted. Because the peppers have a lot of moisture in them, you won’t be able to get the bacon crispy. Be careful handling and eating the poppers, that cheese will be really hot.
You can substitute any type of cheese you like for the brick of cream cheese. I don’t recommend the spreadable cream cheese (the one that comes in the little plastic tub), because it’s too soft and will melt and run out of the jalapeno before the bacon is done.
If you’ve ever gone walking down the fishing aisle of any sporting goods store, you’re sure to be AMAZED at the variety of fishing poles and reels available. To make life easier, I thought I should probably explain about the three (FOUR!) main types of reels.
- Spin cast
- Fly (I’m not even going to get into fly fishing in this article, just know that they are wildly different!)
You’ll want to match your pole, reel, and tackle to the type of fishing that you’ll be doing. But, for the beginner, it’s easiest to just find a rod-reel combo that works for you and then get comfortable with it!
Spin Cast Reels
Also known as a closed-face reel, spin cast reels are the best choice for beginning fishermen due to their ease of use. To this day, this is the type of reel I use. It is PERFECT for kids and novice anglers since it is easy to use and hard to screw up!
Spin cast reels are typically inexpensive. Another plus if you’re just getting started fishing!
A spin cast reel sits on top of the fishing rod.
Using A Spin Cast Reel
Spin cast reels combine spinning and casting. The spool of line remains stationary until you use a thumb button to cast. When you release the button, your bait or lure propel your line.
Pros of a Spin Cast Reel
- They can be inexpensive
- Easy to use
- Not a lot that can go wrong with them
- Are usually easy to cast
Cons of a Spin Cast Reel
- Aren’t high-capacity so don’t hold a lot of line
- Are typically only good for light to medium weight line (small to medium sized fish)
- Drag systems aren’t always reliable
Also known as an open-faced reel, spinning reels come in a variety of sizes and can be used for a variety of fish species, from small panfish to large saltwater predators.
The reel is mounted under the rod.
Using A Spinning Reel
A spinning reel has a fixed spool which doesn’t turn during the cast or retrieve. Instead, line is retrieved through a pickup mechanism called a bail, which turns around the spool as you turn the reel’s handle.
Pros of a Spinning Reel
- Variable-sized spool that can accommodate varying amounts of line
- From or rear drag systems (helps to keep the fish from breaking the line)
- Good at casting light lures
- Lures can be cast accurately (if you know how!)
Cons of a Spinning Reel
- If you’re not careful, you can get the line completely tangles
- Not (usually) a good choice for beginners to kids
- Since the reel mounts under the rod, you might have to “relearn” how to cast
- Can be expensive
Baitcasting reels are among the most specialized type of reels. They are best used with heavier lures than can be fished with a spinning reel. Baitcasting reels sit atop the fishing rod and come in a wide variety of sizes. They can be used to catch fish ranging in size from a pound or two to hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Not for the beginner, a baitcasting reel is used when fishing heavy cover. This type of reel is not meant to be used with light lures! A baitcasting reel has more uses than the others, but also requires more coordination to use.
Using a Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasting reels work with the weight of the bait or lure as it pulls on the line and turns the spool to release more line; the heavier the lure, the longer the cast.
The baitcaster reel mounts to the top of the rod. The line comes off these reels from the top, so it doesn’t twist, however, the angler’s thumb is used to help control the speed the line unwinds off the reel when casting. However, that can make it difficult to cast. Because, if you forget to put your thumb down over the line on the reel, or don’t use enough pressure, the reel spins faster than the line can go through the guides, so it creates a big mess of snarled, tangled line called a backlash.
Pros of a Baitcasting Reel
- You can cast with pin-point accuracy (after you learn how!)
- Can handle heavy tackle and line
- Perfect for catching big fish
Cons of a Baitcasting Reel
- Difficult to learn to use
- Can make a huge mess of your line if used incorrectly
- Not good for fishing lightweight tackle or for small fish
When you’re in the market for a new reel, be sure it will incorporate with your fishing pole. Not all reels can be used on all poles; the styles need to match. Also keep in mind the type of fishing you’re likely to be doing before buying a reel: size of fish, line diameter, tackle weight.
Also make sure you get a reel that matches your dominant hand. Not all reels are reversible for right- or left-handed anglers!
My biggest suggestion with buying any type of fishing gear is to always start out in a moderate price range. I also recommending going to a good tackle shop and talk to an expert: explain the type of fishing you want to do and listen to their advice!
Readers Weigh In:
- What type of reel do you use?
- Do you have any horror stories of tangled line or the one that got away?
Most of the time, getting dirty while camping is half the fun. But on longer trips, or if it is really hot out, I’m always interested in cleaning up a bit. Trust me, having clean hair, face and hands goes a LONG way toward making me feel human again!
Whenever I drive through a campground, I see tons of those PVC camp showers laying on picnic tables and the hoods of cars. But my only experience with one was decidedly unpleasant so I’m never tempted to try it one out.
It was just before my 4th birthday. Standing on a picnic table, The Queen Mother decided to hose me down. Needless to say, the water was FREEZING and I was screaming that I was camping, there was no way I’d ever take a shower! Needless to say, Mom gave it up as a bad job and just dried me off! No solar showers for me!
According to the package, the solar shower should be able to heat 5 gallons of water from 60 degrees to 105 degrees in just three hours. And, according to various water/shower websites, most people shower in water between 102 and 107 degrees. So, the box promising water of 105 would be right in the comfortable range for most people.
Of course, there’s a HUGE difference between a solar camp shower and your shower at home:
At home, you close the door and trap all the warm air around you. In camp, there aren’t really any doors to close!
The only thing left to do was to put the solar shower to the test!
- Initial Water Temperature: 78°
- Gallons in shower: 5
- Put in sun at: 1:07 pm
- Outside Temperature: 94°
Mid-way through the 3 hours:
- Time: 2:37 pm
- Water Temperature: 92°
- Outside Temperature: 97°
After 3 hours
- Time: 4:08 pm
- Water Temperature: 100°
- Outside Temperature: 94°
Well, at 100 degrees, maybe the water would be warm enough and maybe not. On a hot day, it would probably be okay to rinse hands and face. Even a quick scrub to my hair. Since I was at the office, couldn’t really test it!
My water, straight from the garden hose, started out at a balmy 78 degrees. I’m pretty sure that this is much warmer than water that comes out of the spigot at any campground I’VE ever been too!
The shower was a bit hard to fill with the hose. It seemed like it would go better as a two person job. To make matters worse, when I tried to pick up the bag, the clear plastic shower tube popped off and water went pouring over my foot. (This is a problem!)
It was actually quite difficult to carry the shower from where I filled it to where I was going to conduct the test. Of course, I couldn’t really wrap my arms around it and carry it like a baby since I was at the office and didn’t want to get all wet. In camp, this might not be as much of an issue since wet and dirty are part of the fun of camping.
I’m not sure at all how you would HANG 5 gallons of hot water so you could get UNDER the hose to wash anything. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds; 5 gallons weighs 42 pounds, give or take. That’s an awful lot of weight to haul up into a tree!
The box said that the hot water is also good for washing dishes. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in camp, I want to scrub dishes with BOILING water. Maybe use warm water (solar shower warm) as a rinse.
Now, there is one more part of the puzzle:
It was partly cloudy in the afternoon so the solar shower wasn’t in 100% full sun. I don’t know how much of a difference that makes to the over all water temperature. I’m planning on re-testing the shower with cold water and on a fully sunny day. I also am curious to know if air temperature makes that much of a difference. And, what happens if you DON’T put the bag in the sun, clear-side-up?
Readers Weigh In:
- What have been your experiences with solar showers?
- What is your favorite way to clean up while you’re in camp?
Here’s a link, in case you want to purchase a camp shower.
We all know that muggles (non-geocachers) are just part of the game. Unfortunately, muggles can cause geocachers some serious problems either by harassing a cacher OR by stealing a geocache. Here are some tips to help you avoid muggles altogether.
(Next week will be an article about what to do when you are actually confronted with a muggle!)
1. Think Before You Cache
Most geocaches hidden in high traffic areas will warn cachers to watch out for muggles. My ’5 is Prime’ geocache is hidden in a more urban area of my home town. There are a lot of people walking dogs, playing ball in the park, and just hanging out at any hour of the day. To make matters worse, the cache has to be RIGHT THERE to be well-hidden from casual glances.
I recommend before everybody leaps out of the car with their GPS, walking sticks, and backpacks, to just look around and see if anybody is observing you. If there are too many people around, come back later.
2. Wear Camouflage
I’ve read many accounts of an orange vest, hard hat, and a clip board making a geocacher “invisible” to muggles. I’ve never tried it personally but I could see how it might work. My favorite type of camouflage is actually just holding the GPS at my side as much as possible. If anybody is looking at me, I just bring it to my ear and pretend it’s a phone.
Of course, the problem with the whole GPS-as-phone type of camouflage is that a GPS is a LOT bigger than a cell phone!
My hands-down favorite camouflage? A camera! Yep, I’ve been known to sneak up to ground zero with the GPS but then whip out the camera and start snapping photos and poking around. Everyone just assumes I’m either a wacky artist or a wacky tourist and ignores me.
3. Ignore Them
Most people will ignore you back! It seems to be ingrained in American society that watching somebody is rude. So if you can easily retrieve the cache, sign the log and replace it, ignoring bystanders will usually work. However, if they ARE watching you, come back later!
4. Be So Outrageous Nobody Would Dare Do What You’re Doing
Case in point: going after the ‘Summer Lovin” cache in Lake Mary. It was a busy Saturday, there were muggles in boats, muggles fishing, muggles walking their dogs! There I was with a tiara and a camera crew.
As soon as I started wading into the water, people might have been watching me, but they were also thinking to themselves “No WAY would I do that!” (Trust me, I could practically SEE the little thought bubbles appearing above their heads!)
5. Create A Diversion
Hand-in-hand with Tip #4, comes Create A Diversion. That’s where one member of your geocaching party is being outrageous (not obnoxious, just outrageous!) over THERE while you retrieve the cache HERE.
Readers Weigh In:
- What tips do you have to avoid the attention of muggles?
And, don’t forget, next week’s article will be about what to do when you simply HAVE to talk to a muggle!
Seems like I am the designated “introducer” in my circle of friends. It doesn’t really mean that I’m necessarily the expert at anything, just that I’m the go-to person when somebody want to try something new. For example, my friend Greg was visiting me from Mesa this past weekend. Greg had never been kayaking (something I love) so I invited him to try it out. (It helps that since ESP Boss bought a new kayak, I can borrow his anytime I want!)
So whenever somebody wants to try kayaking, or tent camping, or geocaching, or metal detecting, I’m their go-to Princess. (Figures, since it’s in the name, right!?)
Greg was an absolute good sport about it all. From helping me load the kayaks the night before, to watching as I assembled the paddles, to letting me help him adjust his life vest. When we were unloading the kayaks from the back of my truck, he told me he was both nervous and excited. I thought that his honesty in the face of being a beginner was fantastic!
Ah, being a beginner! When was the last time you tried something new? How did it go?
Here are my tips for anytime you are sharing your “expertise” with somebody who is just trying out something you’ve done for a while:
1. Remember what it was like to be new at it.
The first time I went kayaking, I had NO idea how to paddle without slamming my elbows into the seat. Or how to keep myself mostly dry. Or how to launch. Or get out. Or even which way was “up” on the paddle!
Remember all YOUR frustrations as a beginner. Then gently share your knowledge.
2. Gently share your knowledge.
If you’re anything like me, you want to KNOW but sometimes ASKING can be embarrassing. Especially when the person you’re out with seems to have loads more experience!
When you’re “instructing” somebody in something new, try forming your instructions as suggestions. Like: I found it works better if I put one foot into the kayak and then sit down right away. That way, the newbie gets the advantage of your “been there, done that, feel in” experience without feeling like they’re being lectured.
The caveat to that, of course, is for any must-know safety tips. In that case, lecture away!
3. Don’t take it for granted that it is “easy”.
Nothing is more frustrating to me, as a beginner in Fill-In-The-Blank, than having my friend assume some level of knowledge. With many of my friends who I introduced to kayaking, they didn’t know how to snap the paddles together. Yes, it is just a compression button and the two halves of a paddle snap together, but don’t assume they know how. Just kindly demonstrate how it’s done and move on.
4. Don’t hover.
Sure, the first time I taught somebody how to use my metal detector I was absolutely panicked at letting an expensive piece of equipment out of my sight. And then I got over it.
By realizing that it’s much better to damage a piece of equipment through USE rather than just letting it collect dust until I was obsolete. And frankly, your friend probably won’t hurt your equipment at all. Isn’t it better to be able to share your excitement with somebody than always going out alone?
5. Assume that they want to take care of your gear.
Sure it can be never wracking letting somebody borrow or use your gear. As on only child “share” wasn’t really part of my vocabulary growing up! But, make the assumption that your friend will take good care of your stuff. After all, they care for YOU so it’ll naturally extend to your gear.
6. Reassure them it’s okay they use your stuff.
Hand-in-hand with #5, be sure to tell your buddy that you’re glad to have them along and excited to show them what you’ve been up to.
In the case of the kayaks, I always make sure to tell my friend that the kayaks are pretty much indestructible. With my metal detector, I just show them the bits that they need to be gentle with.
7. Don’t wait to “introduce” somebody to what you like to do.
I had barely started geocaching before I started dragging my friends along. I figured I knew more than them (how to use a GPS) so I could teach them what I knew.
Same with kayaking: I had done my research and gone out once. ESP Boss saw how much fun I was having so decided to try it too. (At the time, we only owned one ‘yak so he had to buy his own.) I gladly shared the little I knew and we learned together on the rest.
8. Enjoy yourself!
Your friend is more likely to relax and enjoy herself if you’re doing the same. When I’m “introducing” somebody to kayaking, I always go to Watson Lake. Why? Because the boat launch doesn’t stress me out, the lake is gorgeous any time of year, and I know it well enough to show off my favorite rock formations and islands.
9. Let them do as much as possible.
Sometimes I’m so busy trying to show off my knowledge, I forget to let my friend participate! I had to remind myself to let Nicole hold the GPS (and not lead the way to where I knew the cache was!) Or let somebody take the lead on a hike or kayak.
There’s a fine like between giving them knowledge and not letting them learn anything on their own. Sometimes, falling in the lake IS the best way to teach somebody how NOT to get out of a kayak!
10. Ask if they’re having a good time.
It’s usually pretty obvious, but asking if your friend likes it is okay too. I try to keep an eye on facial expressions and body language as well.
When I was in college, I liked to ride the bus across town to go ice skating on Friday afternoons. Since I liked it, I had a stream of friends that I took along. Some liked it, some didn’t. But when I took my friend Elise, I made the mistake of not paying attention to HER. I was busy skating around and I didn’t realize that she was taking fall after fall. After about thirty minutes she begged me to go home. If I had been paying more attention, I would have realized that she wasn’t having a good time and cut the trip short.
11. Don’t expect everybody to love it.
Just like with Elise, I have plenty of friends that never want to go Fill-In-The-Blank with me again. It just wasn’t their cup of tea. But for every person who said “Thanks. I’d always wanted to try it and now I have. Bye!” there is somebody else who’s asked me: How do I register to find geocaches? Where should I buy a kayak? Or Can we go again?
Remember, your goal is to INTRODUCE somebody to what interests you. It’s up to them after that!
When Nicole & I were camping last weekend, we bought 5 ears of corn at the grocery store in Williams. Nicole wanted to try barbequing them! Neither one of us had ever made grilled corn on the cob but we were up to the challenge.
- Ears of corn, in husks
- Butter, salt and pepper (to taste)
- Tin foil (optional)
Begin by peeling back the husks to remove the silk. The trick to this seemed to be to gently peel it away from the corn so the husk doesn’t rip completely off the ear. Tugging firmly on the silk (in line with the ear of corn) seemed to be the best way to remove the silk.
Remove any parts of the corn that are bruised, damaged, or eaten by worms!
Then, we mashed butter along the corn before pulling the husks back into place. (I’m not sure if that HAS to be done, but we did it!) Don’t expect the husks to completely cover the kernels; it’ll be okay.
We cooked the corn directly on the grill over the fire. We probably SHOULD have started the fire earlier so there were less flames and more coals (also less smoke!) but it did work. I kept pushing the burning logs more under the grill so the heat would be more or less even, but every time I did, the flames would leap up and catch the corn husks on fire. But the corn has a high moisture content so it didn’t burn.
Cook about 20 minutes. You’ll want to use metal tongs to flip the corn over half-way through cooking. We also rotated them on the grill at that time too so all ears were evenly over the hottest part of the fire.
The corn turned out tender and juicy! The smoke (and ignited husks) gave the corn a great smoky flavor. If you don’t LIKE the taste of smoke (Nicole doesn’t!) then wrap the corn loosely in tin foil before cooking.
Like any time you’re eating corn on the cob, expect to get dirty! Have plenty of paper towels on hand. Handling the ears also turned my hands (and shirt) black since they were well charred on the outermost layer.
I know you all know that I live in Arizona. And, that my favorite type of fishing is in our put-and-take lakes. But, not everybody is into the “easy” ways of catching trout. If you’re feeling up to it (and can handle loosing some tackle to the rocks of a stream) then read on to find out about how to use a jig set up to catch stream trout!
Most trout in lakes will eat whatever you throw out to them, either on the bottom, trolling, or cast and reel. (Provided of course, they’re biting at all!) Stream trout, on the other hand, feed more selectively than many game fish.
Whatever big trout are feeding on, whether it is insect larvae or minnows, it’s important to use a presentation that looks and moves like the real thing. If you can, creep up to the stream, not letting your shadow fall on the water, and see if you can spot what the trout are after. If you can’t figure it out, (and who can read a trout’s mind!) then don’t be afraid to try different baits or techniques.
Most of the major diet items for a stream trout can be imitated by a jig.
Jig: type of fishing lure, it usually consists of a lead sinker with a hook molded into it. There is then some sort of body on the shank of the hook. The jig is very versatile and can be used in both salt water as well as fresh water. Many species are attracted to the lure which has made it popular amongst anglers for years.
The head of a jig can consist of many different shapes and colors along with different features. The most common is the round head, but others include fish head shaped, coned shaped, etc. These heads come in many different weights usually ranging from 1/64th of an ounce to over 1 ounce. They can also be found in a wide array of colors and patterns. The hooks also vary. These variances can be on the hook type, color, angle of the hook or the material of the hook. Some jig heads even offer a weed guard.
Tiny 1/64-ounce jigs tipped with plastic nymph imitate nymph-stage insects, while a larger 1/16-ounce jig with a 1-inch white curlytail grub imitates a larger pupae or small baitfish.
Nymph-stage insect: stage between larva and mature insect; given to young stages of insects which undergo a partial metamorphosis. The nymph is usually quite similar to the adult except that its wings are not fully developed. It normally feeds on the same kind of food as the adult.
Jigs can be worked slowly (bounced lightly across bottom) or swum through deeper waters of pools and runs. In summer, cast jigs along under-cut banks, around deeper wood, below cascades into plunge pools, and behind boulders in runs.
Since jigs are already weighted, they often don’t require additional weight to sink them to the bottom. Depending on the way the water moves, however, they can raise in the water column, so keep an eye on how the jig sits in the water.
Readers Weigh In:
- What set-up do you like to use to fish for trout in streams?
An Internet search will turn up a million and one checklists about what to take with you when you GO camping. What I’ve found, however, is that people have little problem bringing everything they need with them, but where they fall apart is knowing what to do with it all when they get home!
Who hasn’t just left a suitcase full of unworn clothes, dirty clothes, and toiletries languishing in the corner for a few days (or longer) after a trip? NOT a good idea for your camping gear, since there’s been considerable expense over the years to gather all your equipment. Unpacking later, rather than sooner, can ruin many different items.
When I got back from my camping trip with Nicole last weekend, I was hot, tired, and dirty. But I knew I shouldn’t leave the gear just sitting there (especially in the back of my truck!) So after a quick lunch, I got right to the business of unpacking all my gear.
Do you RV? The very first thing you need to do is dump your holding tanks of grey and black water. If you can, dump the tanks at the campground, since many provide RV dumps. If you camp a lot, and if it’s feasible at your house, consider having a sewer connection near where you park your RV.
The EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family (okay, so it was all ESP Boss!) had a level concrete pad poured where we park the RV. Right there we have a sewer dump, fresh water connection, and power.
Return any leftover foods to the refrigerator or pantry, as necessary, and discard any foods that may have spoiled. Do this sooner rather than later. Some items on the put-away checklist can be done the next day, but food needs to be unpacked and returned to the refrigerator or pantry right away.
Rinse the ice chest and allow to dry. Sprinkle some baking soda in the ice chest to keep it odor-free and fresh until the next time you use it. This is a great time to make sure the valve to let out water is still working and that there are no cracks or bows in the chest. If anything is damaged, replace the ice chest.
Gather up and dispose of any remaining trash.
As you unpack, take inventory of your gear. Did you leave anything behind? Identify any items that are damaged, broken, or consumed (like matches). Be sure to count your tent stakes to make sure you’ll have enough for the next trip. Then, make a list of what needs repair or replacement. Pay special attention to items in your first aid kit.
When we get home from a camping trip, we also make sure to restock on any paper products we’ve used: toilet paper, paper plates, paper towels, plastic silverware, and make sure that the replacements get back into the trailer or camping box.
Separate all clothes and bedding items that may need laundering. Don’t wait to start doing the laundry; wash whatever you can, as soon as you can, to remove outdoor smells that can come from campfires, or from lakes, streams, and beaches, or from dirt, mud, and sand, etc.
Set up your tent to air it out, especially if it got wet while camping, and give it a good sweeping before stowing it. Be sure to air out any other camping gear, which may have gotten wet on the trip, to avoid possible mold and mildew. If your RV has slide-outs or anything tent-like (awnings, tent trailer sides, fold out beds, etc.) be sure to open all of these when you get home and make sure they are dry.
(If you are in an area that gets morning dew, make sure that all the gear is stowed before the dew falls, or you’ll have to wait for everything to dry out again!)
Clean all kitchen utensils, cookware, dishes, glasses, and silverware – if you can, run everything through the dishwasher. Return kitchen items to where they belong, and store all camping specific cooking items together.
Open your camping stove and wipe off any grease or food particles. You also might need to wash any cooking surfaces.
Make sure that any camping stoves and lanterns are turned off and that all fuel containers are properly stored.
Empty any water containers and allow to dry. You’ll want to keep a close eye on it however, so as soon as the inside is dry, you put the lid on tightly. There is nothing worse that filling up your potable water container and having a big dead spider looking up at you from the bottom! Or peering inside to see dust, cat hairs, dead bugs, LIVE bugs… You get the picture!
Take good care of your camping gear since it was an investment and you will want to use it for many years to come.
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you have other items on YOUR unpacking checklist?